Look, nobody’s ever going to accuse James Cameron of a lack of ambition. The celebrated filmmaker is the man who gave us envelope-pushing sci-fi classics like The Terminator and The Abyss. He’s also responsible for the two biggest movies in history in Titanic and Avatar. We’ve known for a while that Cameron was working on follow-ups to the latter, with him have regularly spoken about an expanded Avatar universe over the last few years. And now it seems that universe just got a little bigger.
While at last week’s CinemaCon, Cameron revealed that alongside the already planned three sequels for Avatar, the filmmaker is now adding an additional fourth film to his plans. While the actual story details for these four new films are still pretty scant, Cameron revealed that he scrapped his original plans for just two sequels – and now subsequently his plans for just three – as he had come up with way too much material for such a small number of films. However all this material will have an overarching cohesion to it.
“We have decided to embark on a truly massive cinematic project, making four epic films, each of which stands alone but together forms a complete saga.”
“It’s going to be a true epic saga that’s told in this rich and complex world.”
The first film, released in 2009, was arguably the biggest proponent of the early push for 3D movies and combined with it’s groundbreaking motion capture and virtual cinematography, was a massive technological achievement. It also made $2.788 billion dollars to become the highest grossing film of all time, as I’m sure you’ve heard.
Set in the future on the incredibly diverse alien planet Pandora, Avatar followed a conflict that broke out between the giant cat-like alien Na’vi and the human military expedition who were trying exploit the planet’s rare mineral resources. Sam Worthington starred as a paralyzed human soldier who through advanced technology was able to remotely control the body of a bio-engineered Na’vi to better assimilate into their society, and in the process developed a relationship with fierce local warrior Neytiri (played by Zoe Saldana).
As for sequels, Cameron wasn’t forthcoming with much more story info, but did provide the schedule for their release. Avatar 2 is still scheduled to go into production in New Zealand later this month, with it then being released in December 2018. Avatar 3 will then follow on in 2020, Avatar 4 in 2022, and the latest addition to the slate being pegged for release in 2023.
We’ve previously heard rumours that one of the films would be exploring the aquatic side of the alien planet Pandora, as well as other planets themselves, while Sigourney Weaver, whose character died in the first film, is somehow also set to make a return. Other than that, it’s just a wild guess as to the story direction as Cameron has reportedly stated that every story he still wants to tell in movies can be done through this franchise, and to that end has assembled one hell of a writing team in Rick Jaffa (Planet of the Apes series, Jurassic World), Amanda Silver (Planet of the Apes series, Jurassic World), Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, The Black Dahlia), Shane Salerno (Shaft, Savages) and himself to try and crack that epic script.
In the meantime, Cameron is also working with Disney on an Avatar theme park attraction, as well as having signed a deal with Dark Horse Comics to publish a number of Avatar spinoff graphic novels.
Last Updated: April 18, 2016